It spun, it swung and that was enough for India to dismantle England for their lowest first innings Test total (112) in India on the first day of the Pink Ball Test at the brand new Motera Stadium, which was renamed after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. India, in reply to England's first innings total were at 99-3, still trailing the visitors by 13 runs, with the man-in-form Rohit Sharma (57*) and Ajinkya Rahane (1*) unbeaten on the crease at Stumps.
Local boy Axar Patel was the star of the evening, scalping a tremendous 6-38 to reduce England to a paltry 112 after they won the toss and decided to bat first. The only saving grace in the entire England innings was the knock of opener Zack Crawley (53), who made it look easy while everyone else struggled.
Axar looked almost unplayable and no wonder he was utilized the most by skipper Virat Kohli. In his 21.4 overs, Axar gave away 38 runs and returned 6 maiden overs. He accounted for Crawley, Jonny Bairstow (0), Ben Stokes (6) Ben Foakes (11), Jofra Archer (12) and Stuart Borad (3).
"I think it's because of the shine, the pink ball was skidding a lot more than the red ball. So bowling here was quite a different experience from bowling in Chennai," Axar told reporters after the match.
Ravichandran Ashwin, too, pitched in with a spectacular 3-26 while Ishant Sharma, playing his 100th Test match, picked up the wicket of opener Dom Sibley for a nought.
Words are too less to express my emotions right now!!— Ishant Sharma (@ImIshant) February 24, 2021
Thank you @rashtrapatibhvn Ji, @AmitShah Ji, @PratimaSinghBB, my teammates & you all for making this an honourable & special moment for me!
Thanks for showering me with all the love & support always!!
Jai Hind! 🇮🇳 🙏 pic.twitter.com/YsQhijfoEg
In the Indian innings, Shubman Gill (11) and Cheteshwar Pujara (0) were dismissed early while Kohli got out just before the day's closure for 27. Kohli had received a lifeline earlier when Olly Pope dropped him on 24 at Gully off James Anderson. However, the Indian skipper couldn't really capitalize on it and perished soon after.
The ambience of Motera acted as a huge boost for the Indian team and Axar acknowledged that if there was anything that felt like a home advantage, it was the crowd support.
"There was hardly any home advantage here. No international game has been played here in 5 years, the wicket was new and we didn't have a clue how the turf would behave. But yes, if we talk about home advantage, for me it was the Gujarati crowd that made us feel like we were playing at home. Other than that I think both sides had equal scopes," Axar added.